The MoE (education ministry) team which looked into the ‘syringe case’ in Budhashi Community Primary School in Zhemgang has completed investigation and submitted the report to the concerned authorities.
Accusations against the Dzongkha teacher of the school in Goshing gewog reported by this paper have been authenticated in the course of this investigation.
The team leader of the investigation team, Dzongkhag Education Officer (DEO), Sangay Chophel said that the syringe was retrieved from the accused teacher and confirmed that he has been handling the syringe long time back.
“By the time we conducted investigation, it has been happening for a long time. Most of the evidences in terms of wounds and marks have healed,” said the team leader.
The team leader shared that in the various statements collected from the affected parents, they’ve submitted that the needle poking of their children by the accused teacher has happened. The Ministry’s investigation team during their investigation process took a statement from the Gup, who is the highest authority at the local level.
Sources say that in his statement, the Gup also submitted confirmation with regard to the teacher’s use of syringe to punish students.
As part of the investigation process, the parents were called for the meeting at the school by the investigation team.
A parent who sought anonymity fearing repercussion said that the teacher poked or jabbed almost all students from Class PP to Class VI. It was known during the meeting that at least six students have sustained visible wounds or marks.
Although this paper is yet to get an access into the official report, sources The Bhutanese talked to indicate that the content of the report say that the syringe in question has been handled by the accused to poke students. In addition, the Principal of the School, Tenzin Dorji, when earlier interviewed voiced his conviction of the dzongkhag teacher’s actions.
“Looking at the wounds, I’d to be convinced that it was created by needle,” said Principal Tenzin Dorji. He added that he had accompanied the investigation team and closely inspected the marks which victims claimed were created by the needle. “I’ve seen marks in one of the victims close to each other resembling those that a needle poking can make,” Principal said.
Goshing Gup, Sangay Letho earlier said that upon receiving an informal complaint about the teacher using syringe to punish students, he deputed his Tshogpa to the school to confirm it. “I sent the Tshogpa of Budhashi chiwog, Rinchen Tshogyal to the school, who confirmed that the teacher is using needle to poke students,” he said.
The Tshogpa said that even his son was a victim. This came to knowledge when his son studying in the same school refused to go to school. When asked about his refusal, his son said, he feared getting poked with the needle.
Another Tshogpa of the affected chiwog, Dorji Lungtse of Lamtang chiwog said, “The entire student body mentioned the teacher’s use of needle to poke them,” He said that the teacher used the needle rampantly on various parts of the students’ body and some students had swollen and wounded parts on their bodies.
The Bhutanese talked to parents of the victimized kids who unanimously confirmed that the needle poking in the school is true. All the parents maintained that there is truth in the needle poking accusations booked against the teacher. Parents also instantly alleged that their son or daughter was jabbed by the teacher’s needle.
A father of one of the victim kids, Leki Pelzang said that the investigation team came to their village. He was asked to present his son with the wounds. “I waited with my son by the footpath for the investigation team to physically inspect the wound,” he said. The team thoroughly inspected and took the pictures of the wound in his son’s buttocks.
“There is definitely hard truth in the fact that we’re unanimous in claiming that the teacher used the syringe to poke students,” said one parent adding that his son had unveiled about the poking to him. “Children are scared to share it with the teachers, they do it with us, the parents.”
Parent, Sangay Thuba from Lamtang village, whose daughter studies in Class II in the same school said, “We’re very definite when it comes to needle poking.” His daughter like any other students was a victim. “It created red marks and my daughter’s lucky it did not pierce through the skin,” said Sangay Thuba.
Sources also say that the school has an unwritten rule whereby all students are required to speak only Dzongkha and English when within the school compounds. The students are to avoid conversing in their local dialects. When one student accidently blurted out a Khengkha word in the class, whole class was on the receiving end of the teacher’s needle.
The Education Ministry put out a circular long time back against the use of corporal punishment.
The team leader said, the circular specifies that no teacher shall use sharp objects in the schools to punish students. “So, in this case, the particular teacher has violated such a direction by having the syringe landed in a wrong hand.”
However, no blood test and other laboratory examinations have been conducted, without which it is very premature to make a conclusion. Enquiries are in progress whether a Health Assistant is medically competent enough to determine negative impacts of such an act. “Physical or outer damages by such needle poking is one thing but it is quite another to see internal damages,” said Director General (DG) of Department of Medical Services of health Ministry, Dr. Ugyen Dophu.
He further said that it is not good in this era of HIV, Hepatatis B and C and AIDS. “It is very dangerous,” he said. He expressed his extreme surprise to hear such a report. The DG cautioned that whether it is a small prick or injecting the whole needle, the risk is equivalent. “Medically we know that it takes just a small prick on the skin to transmit diseases.”
This paper also contacted the accused Dzongkha Language Teacher of the syringe case. He accepted that he handled the syringe and it remained in his possession from 20 September. However, he refuted using it to blatantly poke students. “I used it only to scare the students in order to make them study.”
He further said that at the most, he used the syringe to pretend poking. “I pressed the needle between my fingers and feigned poking.” He defended saying that if ever a mark has been created; it was because he used his nails to convince students of poking.
However, back at the ministry’s headquarters, a meeting is scheduled to be convened on 31 October. The booking of the charges to the teacher will be spelled out as per the official report.